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Has Your Car Been Recalled?

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If you’re the owner of a new car and it’s been recalled for some reason, you’ll get a notice directly from the manufacturer. And even though we live in a high-tech world where the car design and manufacturing process gets heavily scrutinized before production begins, recalls do happen.

30-Plus Recalls in a Month. That’s Normal.

automobile recall, vehicle recall, car recall, recall repair, recall serviceFor example, in December alone there were more than 28 recalls from major manufacturers for things like faulty locks, defective fuel pressure, ignition fuel leaks, wiring problems, defective air bag deployment, drive axel issues, and other problems that could potentially lead to a fire or accident.

Recall Notification for Original Owners

If you find out that your car is on the recall list, you also receive instructions on how to get the problem taken care of (usually at an authorized dealer/repair shop specified by the manufacturer).

Sure, it’s a hassle, but it’s better than the alternative that can occur if you choose to do nothing about a known problem. And if you do find out your car has been recalled, take care of it as soon as possible. Sometimes manufacturers end up putting customers on a waiting list because they run out of parts needed to complete the recall repair.

If You’re Not the Original Owner…

So what happens if you’re not the original owner of a car when a recall is issued? Nothing. You won’t get a visit from the Car Recall Response Team, letter in the mail, or even a phone call from a spammy-looking number.

Want to find out if your car has been recalled? Check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Visit the site and check Recalls & Defects to see if your car has been recalled for a problem. You can also find recall info on tires, motorcycles, and travel trailers.

Deadline for Recall Repairs

Car recalls happen pretty frequently. But there’s one detail you don’t hear very often from car manufacturers when a recall occurs. You have up to 10 years from the original sale date of the car to get a no-cost repair for a recall.

If your car doesn’t seem to be running right, or you’re concerned it may have been issued a recall, do something about it. Check with the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, or bring your car in for an inspection. Our team of certified and experienced mechanics stay up to date on the latest recalls, and can let you know if your car is on the list.

Click here to schedule an appointment, call us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Not your Typical Repair Shop

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You’re in a rush to pick up your kids from school. But with afternoon traffic and hundreds of other parents trying to do the same thing, you’re running behind. And if it’s not picking up kids, you probably know what it’s like to fight traffic when you’re trying to get to work, go on vacation, make a delivery, or get to an important appointment.

car repair, beckley automotive, beckley imports, great customer service, auto repair des moinesSo what do you do? You deal with it. You listen to the radio, talk to others in the car, check your phone messages (But no texting while driving. It’s against the law in Iowa), or people-watch as drivers and other cars go by. All the while, you’re counting on your car to get you from here to there.

But what happens when your car has a problem?

All hell breaks loose. Right? Or at least that’s what it can feel like.

It happened to an Altoona mom recently. Her car overheated. Quick thinking and a Google search pointed her to our shop, and she rolled in with smoke and steam billowing from under the hood. Fortunately, it wasn’t a major problem, but it was going to take the rest of the afternoon to repair. And that had this mom a little worried.

“I just picked up my daughter from school,” she said. “And I took the afternoon off to take her shopping, and spend some time together.” She was worried their plans were going to be canceled because of car trouble.

Our waiting area is nice and comfortable, but there’s probably other places you’d like to be with some free time on your hands. We like taking care of our customers, so we worked out an arrangement that let this mom keep the shopping date with her daughter (check it out, here). A couple hours later, and we had her car fixed and ready to roll.

“We had a wonderful afternoon,” she said. That’s not the typical response you expect to hear when you ask someone about getting their car repaired. But then again, we’re not your typical auto shop.

We’re the best automotive repair shop serving the Des Moines area since 1979.

Got car trouble? Need repair work done, or just routine maintenance? We can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Cold-Weather Tips to Improve Gas Mileage

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If you’re planning a road trip during the holidays, travel for work, or still have a lot of present shopping to do, you’re probably going to put a fair amount of miles on your car.

All the usual routine maintenance is important. But a more immediate cost you’re probably keenly aware of is the price of gas.

cold weather gas mileage, winter gas mileage, tips for winter fuel economyRight now gas prices are better than they have been for a while. In Des Moines, gas prices for regular unleaded range from $2.19 a gallon to $2.59 a gallon. But even with lower gas prices making things a little easier on your budget, it still makes sense to get the best fuel economy possible. Cold weather can interfere with fuel economy. But it doesn’t have to. Follow these five tips to improve gas mileage during the winter months.

  1. Park Inside. Whenever possible park your car in a place that’s out of the elements. A warm garage is best. Start your car when it’s already a little warm, and fuel economy will be better than trying to warm up a cold engine.
  1. Evaluate Your Travel Plans. Before you hop in the car and drive to work, the store, drop kids off at school, or go do something else, take a little time to evaluate your plans for the day. Look for ways you can combine trips. You’ll drive less, and you won’t be starting up a cold engine over and over.
  1. Don’t Idle Your Engine. If you’re serious about getting better gas mileage during the winter, don’t idle your engine. A lot of people do this to warm up their vehicle, but it’s wastes fuel, costing you more at the pump. If you really feel the need to warm up your engine, give it 30 to 60 seconds, and then be on your way.
  1. Check Tire Pressure. If you drive a newer car, it may be equipped with a Tire Pressure Monitoring Sensor. If you get a warning about low tire pressure, add some air. Driving around with low tire pressure, can wear out your tires faster, can be dangerous in bad weather, and reduces fuel economy. If you don’t have a TPMS system in your car, get out a tire gauge to check tire pressure, or bring it in for an inspection.
  1. Limit the Use of the Defroster and Heated Seats. Driving with a clear windshield is important. But you probably don’t need to run your defroster non-stop. And heated seats are really just a luxury some cars have. Both of these features take a toll on fuel economy, so only used them as necessary.

Get better gas mileage during the winter months by following these tips. Routine maintenance can make a big difference in fuel economy, too. And we can help. Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Are your Anti-Lock Brakes Working?

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Good Vibrations: Your Anti-Lock Brakes Are Working

With snow already in the upcoming forecast, there’s a good chance that sometime during the Iowa winter you’re going to need to step on the brakes, hard. The person in front of you suddenly brakes during rush-hour traffic. A car slides out in front of you on an icy or snowy patch of road. You’re cruising down the Interstate when you roll up to a multi-car pile-up (yes, it happens in Des Moines at least once a year), and need to slow down fast.

Anti-Lock Brakes, ABS, winter driving, driving on snow, brake checkup

Step on the brakes, and you’re counting on the brake pads or drum, and rotors to evenly slow you down and bring your car to a stop. And on most cars, there’s one more built-in safety feature designed to help you handle your car better when you have to stop in a hurry…anti-lock brakes.

Anti-Lock Brakes Improve Driving Safety

Anti-lock brakes are meant to prevent you from stuff like skidding into an accident and laying a ton of rubber on the road in the process. And it works. Step on the brakes hard, and you’ll experience rapid vibrations designed to keep you from going into a full-on skid. It’s actually a good idea to try braking hard when no one is around, just to get a feel for what engaging anti-lock brakes feel like.

Most Cars Are Made with Anti-Lock Brakes

So who gets the credit for inventing anti-lock brakes? This braking safety feature has actually been around a lot longer than you might think. It was the brainchild of the now-defunct Jensen Motors, a British auto maker. The company designed the first anti-skid braking system in 1958, and then used it on the production line to make the Jensen FF Sports Sedan in 1966.

At first anti-lock brakes were too expensive, and only appeared on high-end sport and luxury cars. But with changes in technology, manufacturing and production, the price for anti-lock brakes dropped. Now most cars are equipped with anti-lock brakes to make driving safer for everyone.

Need your brakes checked before the first big winter storm arrives? Don’t wait to find out. Let us inspect your brake pads, rotors, drums, and anti-lock braking system.

Click here to schedule a service appointment, contact us at 515-243-8185, send us an email at service@beckleyimports.com, or stop by at 901-8th Street in Des Moines.

Radiator Cap Check Can Save You Time & Money

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It’s a hot summer day. You’ve packed up your car with everything you need for a week-long vacation and take I-35 out of town. Everything seems to be going as planned on your road trip, until you notice the needle of the thermostat gauge start creeping towards H-O-T.

radiator cap checkIf your car overheats, it’s possible to let the engine cool, refill the coolant reservoir, and keep on going. But driving your car when it’s overheating, can lead to serious engine damage. And if there’s any truth to Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong), your car could overheat in the middle of nowhere during the hottest time of day where cell service is poor.

While car trouble on a summer vacation road trip might be funny in the movies, it’s not when you’re the one stuck on the side of the road. There are a variety of reasons your car could overheat. But sometimes, it’s as simple as a faulty radiator cap.

How the Radiator Cap Works

The radiator cap on the coolant reservoir is made of metal. There’s a spring inside that helps regulate pressure inside the radiator. The cap also has a rubber gasket designed to create a proper seal with the coolant reservoir. Both the spring inside the radiator cap and the rubber seal are wearable parts and should be inspected periodically.

How to Inspect Radiator Cap

A quick inspection of the radiator cap can save you time and money. But you’ll want to do this before your next road trip. Here’s how:

  1. When your car engine is cool, open the hood and locate the radiator cap. (It’s typically a silver-colored cap on the reservoir that contains coolant or antifreeze.)
  1. Push down, twist, and pull up on the radiator cap. It requires a little effort because it’s spring loaded and should have a solid seal if the rubber gasket is good.

Here’s what to look for:

  • If you don’t feel any resistance or pressure when you push down on the radiator cap, the spring inside may no longer be working properly.
  • Once the cap is off, take a closer look at the rubber gasket. If it’s cracked or brittle in any places, it’s not creating a proper seal.

If you find either of these problems, replace the radiator cap. It’s a good time to check the coolant level and top off the reservoir, too.

If you need help with a failing radiator cap, or your car is still prone to overheating after replacing it, we can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

 

Muffler Repairs & Preventing Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

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Earlier this year one Iowa teen died and a second was hospitalized after an exhaust leak filled their car with poisonous carbon monoxide gas, according to KCCI-8 News. Investigators believe the teens were hanging out with the car running at the close of a Saturday night date and were unaware that the vehicle’s exhaust pipe was broken.

muffler repair downtown des moines iowaCarbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas your car engine releases when running. But it normally travels through the muffler and out the exhaust into open air where it doesn’t pose a serious health risk. In the recent Iowa case, the exhaust pipe was broken directly under the passenger side of the car and toxic fumes filled the interior of the vehicle in a short amount of time.

Accidental carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty muffler or exhaust system is largely preventable. If you notice changes in the sound of your muffler, a different smell coming from your exhaust, or can visibly see holes in the muffler or exhaust, take action.

Here’s what you can do:

Listen up. You drive your car every day. You should be the first to notice a change in the sound your engine makes as you cruise down the road. If it sounds rougher or louder than normal, your muffler or exhaust system may have a problem, and you should schedule an inspection.

Use your sniffer: You’ve probably been walking or driving down the road when a car passes you spewing nasty-smelling exhaust fumes. No one likes that smell. If you start to notice a similar smell in the cab of your car, don’t ignore this. It’s often a sign of holes or perforations in the muffler or exhaust system allowing carbon monoxide into the cab of the car instead of exiting the tailpipe. If your car starts smelling like exhaust fumes, get it checked out.

Take a look: If you think your muffler or exhaust system might have a problem, take a look. Be sure the muffler is cold before you try this. Look under the car at the muffler and exhaust pipe. You might see obvious holes, rust spots, or splits that could be the source of the problem. Even a problem as small as a pinhole could leak carbon monoxide into your car, and getting it repaired is important.

Muffler and Exhaust Repairs

If your car does have a muffler or exhaust issue, pinhole-sized problems can often be welded closed. For bigger problems, the muffler and all or part of the exhaust system may need to be replaced, which may include the resonator, catalytic converter, and the pipes that carry exhaust to the tailpipe exit.

Need your muffler and exhaust system inspected? We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

5 Essentials for Planning Your Next Road Trip

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It’s been a week since kiddos in the Des Moines area said goodbye to another school year. That means it’s officially summer vacation. More people hit the road in cars, trucks, and motor-homes during the summer season than any other time of the year.summer road trip tips iowa

In fact, Americans take an estimated 657 million road trips during the summer months from Memorial Day to Labor Day, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The typical vacationer drives their own car to a destination about 284 miles away for a little R&R. The survey results showed that 9 out of 10 vacation road trips are taken by car.

If you’re planning a summer road trip, it’s a good idea to get a tune-up before you go. Regular and preventive maintenance can give you peace of mind and prevent a break-down that could throw a wrench into your vacation plans. Once your car’s ready for the road, be sure to bring these five things along on your road trip.

  1. Emergency kit. Keep some basic tools and set of jumper cables in your car. And make sure you’ve got a first aid kit stocked with Band-Aids and other essentials to treat minor aches, pains, cuts, or scratches.
  1. GPS system. If your car doesn’t have a built-in system, use your smartphone or a stand-alone GPS device. Being able to find your way from Point A to Point B, and all the places in between without getting lost can lower stress and make your vacation more relaxing and enjoyable.
  1. Food and water. You don’t need to pack like you’re never coming back. But having a little extra food and water on board is a good idea. You won’t have to stop as often. If there aren’t any restaurants for long stretches, you’ll still have something to eat and drink. And if you plan it right, you might even save money eating your own food instead of going out to eat when you’re on the road.
  1. Extra keys. A magnetic key box you can hide under your car, or just an extra key you keep in your wallet can save the day if you lock yourself out of your car. It happens. Sure you could call a locksmith, but that will mean waiting around and forking over some extra money you probably didn’t plan on spending for your vacation.
  1. Cell phone and charger. Love it or hate it, having a cell phone when you’re on a road trip is a good idea. You’ll be able to call for help if something happens. And it will make it easier to check in with family and friends when you’re on the road.

Start planning your road trip by getting your car serviced before you go. We can help. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

10 Ways to Get More Money When Selling Your Car

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At some point in time, you’re probably going to decide it time to replace your ride with a different car. Maybe you need more space for a growing family, or downsizing to a smaller ride as an empty-nester. Or maybe you want to sell off a gas-guzzler for a more fuel efficient vehicle.

tips for selling your carWhen you’re ready to sell, taking care of a few details can help you get more money for your car. Check out these 10 ways to boost the resale value of your car.

  1. Replace windshield wipers – It’s an inexpensive fix and only takes a few minutes to install new wipers.
  2. Clean the engine – You can try and clean the engine yourself with products designed to help remove dust, grease, and dirt. Or check out our detailing services to shine up your engine.
  3. Refill or top off fluids – Letting a potential buyer know your car has had a recent oil change and reservoirs are filled for anti-freeze, brake fluid, windshield wiper fluid, etc., can help seal the deal.
  4. Check tire tread – You’re good if you’ve got a decent amount of tread remaining. But if tread is worn, replace the tires to increase the sale price of your car. If a buyer will have to replace the tires, you’re more likely to haggle over the asking price.
  5. Clean up the exterior with a wash and wax – Simply giving your car a thorough wash and wax can shine it up and make it more appealing to a potential buyer. If your headlights are foggy from years of oxidation, consider replacing the headlight casing or headlight restoration. Shining rims and wheels can also increase the wow-factor when you show your car to a potential buyer.
  6. Clean the interior – After miles of road trips or shuttling kids around town, the interior of your car could probably use a makeover. Give it a thorough cleaning by vacuuming and wiping down surfaces.
  7. Get the brakes inspected/replaced – Like new tires, new brakes can cost a couple hundred bucks. If you’re had your brakes serviced recently, let the buyer know. If you think it may be time to get your brakes replaced, bring your car in for an inspection. Selling your car with new brakes can be a good way to get the price you want.
  8. Take care of minor repairs – Over time most cars develop minor problems that are easy to overlook. These are things like a burnt out dome line, a squeaky door, windshield cracks and dings, or minor body damage like a small dent from a shopping cart. Taking care of minor repairs like these may cost a few dollars, but it can help you get closer to your asking price when you list the car.
  9. Consider major mechanical work – When you’re trying to sell a car, it may need some major repairs like a new transmission or alternator. Major repairs may cost you a little more, but it may be worth it depending on the age of your car, mileage, and overall condition.
  10. Bring your car in for an inspection before you sell. – Our experienced mechanics can give you a complete diagnostic report about your car. This information can help you determine a fair asking price, decide on repairs you might want to make, and give you some negotiating power when you’re ready to sell.

Want help getting your car ready to sell? Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

 

How Many Mechanics Does it Take To Replace a Car Headlight Bulb?

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You’d think that would be the beginning of a bad joke, but it seems car manufacturers are increasingly engineering headlight assemblies that are making the once-simple task of replacing a headlight bulb much more difficult.

replace car headlight bulbFor example, in the Saturn Aura and some Cadillac models, the only way to get to the headlight assembly is by removing the entire front bumper. In the Chevy Traverse, the inner fender has to be removed to gain access to the headlight assembly. And it can be incredibly frustrating if you’re trying to figure out how to change a headlight on a car like this on your own.

Fortunately, enough hands-one mechanics and consumers have complained about this design, that some manufacturers have tasked their engineering team with making it easier to change a headlight. GMC added an easy-to-remove access panel under the fender of the Sierra. Chrysler did something similar to the PT Cruiser. And for those who drive the latest VW Beetle models, Volkswagen was kind enough to add an access panel too.

If you’ve got a burned out headlight, and you’re scratching your head about how to replace it, we can help. We’ve been servicing foreign and domestic cars for over 35 years, and seen just about every headlight assembly out there.

Got a headlight that needs to be replaced? Let us brighten your day. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here to schedule an appointment.

Improve Fuel Economy With Proper Engine Maintenance

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improve fuel economy des moines iowaHow much highway driving do you do? Whether you’re planning to take a summer vacation, travel for work, or just have to get on the interstate to head across town, your engine performs best and achieves peak fuel economy during ideal highway driving conditions. In Iowa, that means traveling at 65 miles an hour or better. Cross state lines and the speed limit goes up. That can be good for getting to your destination faster, and it can improve fuel economy, but only if your car’s engine and supporting systems are working properly.

That’s where Beckley’s comes in. Through proper maintenance of your car’s engine, you can get the best fuel economy, drive safe and secure, as well as save a little money in the long run. Proper engine maintenance is simply a matter of discipline.  Some of the issues you need to pay attention to for the best fuel economy include:

  • intake and exhaust restrictions
  • timing and gearing,
  • mechanical resistance, and
  • tire performance

These can have a substantial impact on fuel economy and how well your car runs. Even driving conditions like temperature and wind resistance can have an impact.

Get the most out of every dollar you spend at the pump. Our team of expert technicians can give your can an inspection and recommend needed services to help your vehicle achieve optimal fuel economy for driving around town or when you’re cruising down the interstate. In many cases, a simple tune-up can make a big difference.

Have you been wondering how to go a little farther on a tank of gas, especially as prices at the pump begin to rise with peak travel season approaching? Bring your car in for an inspection and tune-up. We’ll get your engine ready for summer travel. Give us a call at 515-423-8185 or click here schedule an appointment.